About the last place one would expect to come across a really fine piece of delicate humour is amongst official correspondence, and yet in a formal letter from Dr. E. P. Ramsay, the Curator of the Australian Museum, to Sir Saul Samuel the following passage occurs. Speaking of the New South Wales exhibits at the International Fisheries Exhibition of London, 1883, the doctor proceeds to remark : - "People here, imagining that we must have already de-"veloped extensive fisheries, from the large collection of "food fishes which we exhibit, were not less surprised at "our very limited materials and methods of capture than at "the immense undeveloped wealth of our fisheries and fish "fauna." Now, I venture to say that a more unconsciously subtle insinuation at the crude methods of fish capture at present employed in our Australian fisheries was never penned. But what makes it so keenly effective is that it really hits the right nail on the head. In giving evidence, also, before Mr. Frank Farnell's select committee of 1889, Dr. Ramsay, upon being asked whether he thought our fishermen were abreast of the times with regard to appliances, replied : - "They are about 200 years behind the times."
To my mind another most convincing proof of the crude methods of fish capture employed in Australian waters is to be found in the following. In one of the Fisheries Reports it is gravely recorded that "some very "valuable gear in general use amongst English, Norwegian, "and American fishermen, had been destroyed in the "Garden Palace fire, but that the Commissioners had been "able to replace the otter-trawl and the beam-trawl." The very fact that these appliances, in active use at the present time by those in the foremost front of fishery enterprise, are regarded in the light of curiosities in Australia, proves only too forcibly the correctness of this opinion as to our primitive fishery appliances.